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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have always dreamed of getting a large tank (my biggest so far has been a 20g tank, but it broke in a move several yrs ago). I am just a few months away from getting my 120g. I will still have to build a stand, and get a few other items before I get plants and fish for it (thinking of cichlids or maybe a mixture of non-aggressive livebearers and neon type fish...haven't decided). Anyway, I need help on what type of "gravel" to put into the tank. I am not sure if it is called "subterrain" or not...sorry. I want the tank to look as "natural" as possible. I saw pictures on here that had some sort of sand, and someone on another forum suggested size3 (I think) gravel (kinda inbetween sand and gravel). I also need to know how to "lay" the sand/gravel...same picture had a mesh inbetween (I think)the two types of sand/gravel. BTW...I tend to ask "blonde" questions, so if something does not make sense, I will try to reword it.

I love all the tank pictures on here, and will use them for ideas in my tank (love the driftwood look). As I said, I am still a few months out (plus cycling time), so I am not in a big hurry, but I still need help. I want to do this right the first time. I am still learning to "raise" plants, so I will only have lowlight for now.

I am a clean canvas (open to all ideas!)

Thanks in advance!
 

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the 'substrate' used most often in planted tanks is one that is specifically designed for one. aqua soil, eco-complete etc. you can find more about substrates in the FAQs section. its got good info there!
 

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You could use flourite by Seachem, or Ecocomplete, and possibly AquaSoil, but AS will soften the water a lot. Flourite, my fav. is kind of red in color. But one can top dress it with your favorite style of natural looking riverbed gravel from a LFS. Just make sure the top dressing is a little larger than what is on the lower substrate. Because the smaller substrate will always end up on the bottom, eventually.

I would definately recommend spending a few hours reading Rexgrigg.com site on planted tanks. Loads of valuable suggestions there to save you money from making wrong choices on tank substrate, lighting, ferts, CO2 etc.

BTW, a 120 is absolutely one of the best tanks for scaping. I've always wanted one, so I'm jelous. Since you mentioned you like driftwood, you can get sweet wood from Manzanitaburlworks.com. That's where I got my big root burl. He doesn't display driftwood for aquariums, but give the friendly owner a call or email and describe your tank and what you are looking for - such as branches or a centerpiece root burl... HTH bob
 

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I suggest you spend some enjoyable minutes reading Rex Grigg's website, to get a good overview of the subject.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I read Rex's guide...I am blonde, so it takes about 50x reading it for it to sink in LOL...just kidding...only 30x LOL!

Ok seriously...how does this sound?!...laterate(?) in the areas I plan to put the plants...NO. 2 gravel around the plant roots...NO.3 gravel over that...entire tank bottom. Will that work? I want to make sure I get it right the first time, so in a few months realize I did it wrong, and then have to tear down the entire tank an start over.

Thanks guys! I appreciate it...I am going to re-read the guide again!
 

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I'm a blonde too...No real need for laterite with flourite, which is rich in iron. If you use a planted tank substrate, you won't need to add laterite. Also, if you have root fed plants, you are going to have to add some sort of root fertilization, regardless of the substrate, Aqua Soil being the possible exception.. Meaning root-tabs every 2 or 3 months of so, like Seachem's root-tabs for plants such as Anubias, Swords, Cryptocornes, Crinum, Vals etc.

I really think tanks with a rich substrate, rather than a cheaper standard gravel end up becoming balanced and stable much faster. So like I mentioned before, you might consider getting a plant oriented substrate for most of the tank and possibly top dressing it. I personally don't like Eco complete anymore, as there have been some cases of inconsistencies, but a lot of folks use it. But you can't go wrong with Seachem's "Flourite", except for the RED color, which I don't like too much.

Are you going lowlight or adding CO2 to a higher light tank? - CO2 enriched tanks generally have over 2.5 watts of well reflected light per gallon.

Some do recommend putting in a very light layer of damp peat before you add any substrate. Check out some of Wasserpest's threads on his tanks. He shows some really interesting play by play setups, though beware of adding "Jobes: brand ferts to the substrate, like he bravely does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Are you going lowlight or adding CO2 to a higher light tank? - CO2 enriched tanks generally have over 2.5 watts of well reflected light per gallon.

So far I am not good at plants. My hornwart is doing a little better, as is my cabomba (sorry, still haven't gotten the plant light...I don't drive in bad weather...woosie..., so I have not been to Walmart yet). I have been putting them in a window during the day, and moving it away at night. As soon as the weather gets above freezing, and the ice goes away, I will get them.

Please keep the suggestions coming. I will look at Wasserpest's threads tomorrow, as it is late, and I have to work tomorrow.

Thanks Guys!
 
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